Thursday, April 25, 2013

Travels to Europe - Part 1 - France

When we speak with our family and friends, we often get asked what adventures we've been up to lately. After all, we are living in Australia (!), shouldn't we be seeing exciting animals and beautiful places every day?

The sad fact is that both of us have jobs and when the weekend rolls around, we're not always up for adventures. However, a couple of weeks ago, we crammed our suitcases full and headed off to Europe for a few weeks.

Why, you might ask, when we live in Australia, are we holidaying in Europe? To visit with good friends of ours from Colorado who are living abroad in Denmark for the year, of course. We've been wanting to get together with them ever since we moved away from the States and their sojourn in Denmark provided a great opportunity for some quality catch-up time as well as a bit of European sightseeing.

Our friends, L&B and their two kids, were the perfect people to vacation with. I think of L as my honorary big sister—she's creative, funny, super stylish, so smart and always has the best advice. Like Drew, B is also a scientist so the two of them have lots of good discussions about research and teaching. Plus, it's great having friends who have similar lifestyles to us. Like us, they are big hikers. (After one short but intense hike together in Colorado where their kids blew by us, Drew whispered to me, "They aren't raising kids, they're raising mountain goats!")

The gang, hiking along the lava rock cliffs of Cap Dramont
France
Our first stop (after hours and hours and hours of flying and airports) was Antibes, France. Antibes is located in the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea. We chose Antibes, thinking it would be warm, but a cold front moving through ensured that we mostly had rainy skies and chilly weather. C'est la vie. Still, on sunny days, we were treated to stunning vistas looking across the unbelievably blue waters that have earned the area the moniker "Côte d'Azur", or Blue Coast.

Looking out over the Mediterranean Sea at the French Alps
Antibes was founded by the Greek in the 5th century BC and has a rich history as a trading port. Even today, you can see remnants of  Roman settlements in some of the outlying hilltop villages. Artists have flocked to Antibes for centuries, soaking up the sunshine and trying to capture the natural beauty of the sea and cliffs. (We saw some rather hilarious photos of Pablo Picasso—painting in his boxers, in the bath, and one silly one of him hamming it up for the camera while wearing a large woolen cap.)

Highlights of France: petting the friendly cats in all of the hilltop villages; hiking along the wild lavender-hemmed coastline of the Côte d'Azur; smelling lots of wonderful and disgusting things in the Musée International de la Parfumerie [International Museum of Perfume] in Grasse; speaking as much French as I could remember and being really glad that L also speaks French; eating  yummy food...pain au chocolat, crêpes, fresh seafood, local olives; relaxing in the apartment and catching up over a glass of French wine; bumping around all the neat local museums; especially the Musée Picasso; walking along the narrow alleyways of old French towns; playing Monopoly Deal and exploring new places with great company


Scroll down for a selection of photos from France...



Aloe vera leaves with carvings.

Looking across the harbor at Fort Royal where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned




Spice stall at the local market

Walking through the city and discovered this ancient gate, rusted from years of exposure to the salt sea air

 

à bientôt



2 comments:

  1. Wow--it looks/sounds amazing! So glad you guys had a good time. :)

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  2. Seriously looks amazing. I love the picture of the mountains and water. I guess I am turning into a Colorado lover after all. I am so glad you had a good time. I can't wait to hear more about it.

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